Current Affairs Personal Politics

apocalypse now

Last night I dreamed an apocalypse.

The dying weeks of a world gone mad, played out in spotlights of real-time in the way only a dream or high budget TV show could do, where various of my communities had packed up to spend their last days in a gigantic maze of prefab houses, pushed together and sealed against the world.

There were courtyards and terraces, and there were great moments of friendship and terrible feuds that poisoned whole sections. In the end, the world was saved, and the apocalypse averted, but the government decided that since we had all prepared for the end, they should see it through.

As we prepared slingshots to catch the missiles and throw them back, the dream faded and the specifics washed out into blooms of pencil-outlined sketches in a sea of merging watercolour, and scant details remained: A ramshackle community built of the houses we brought with us, a nuclear missile being redirected with the aid of a large palm tree and a bouncy castle, and a long-running sense of inexorable impending doom.

So in a way, my dreams are coming true.

(Header image by Hucky on Pixabay, used under licence)


EU Referendum

On the plus side, if ever there was a good day to have a paternalistic, patronising, patrioteer government who doesn’t believe its citizens should be trusted to operate the heavy machinery of government, it’s today. Maybe they will just ignore the will of the people. An announcement in a year: “After negotiation with the EU and a number of concessions, we have decided that leaving would not be in the interests of this country”
Nah. We’ve lost today. Dollar to Pound is at its highest rate since 1985. UKIP’s grinning. Stock Market’s going to be absolutely awful. And we haven’t even actually lost any of the protections, agreements and treaties that fall into our EU membership.
Scotland went remain, but almost every district in the UK went Leave. As ever, the binary final decision at the local level doesn’t reflect the closeness of the result. This isn’t a clear win.
I think there should be a 10% gap in the middle of referenda. Maybe for all elections, where “None of the above” lives if not as a choosable option, than as an inference that the decision’s close enough that the result cannot really be assumed to be representative.
Maybe that’s just the bitter tears of the losing side though. Today, though, I think we’re all the losing side.
computing Politics

On not pardoning Alan Turing

(Then) Prime Minister Gordon Brown, September 2009, being Right:

So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship: that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. [from the Telegraph]

Minister for Justice Lord McNally, February 2012, being significantly less Right:

A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted.

It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd-particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort. However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times. [via Hansard]

The information that the former apology was made instead of a pardon is an interesting one, as I don’t think that was reported at the time, and I can understand – though I disagree with – the desire not to set a precedent of retrying old cases under new law. But while Gordon Brown’s statement on the subject explained how badly the government felt about it, I feel that the legal status of a pardon – admitting that the forced chemical castration of homosexuals for the crime of being homosexual was absolutely wrong – is a point worth making, and if by making that stand those who were castrated under those circumstances and still live come out into the light of public notice, then it is all to the good. They were all subject to a terrible law. As someone whose contributions to both the war and foundations of the information change is extensive, and yet was driven to suicide by a government who valued his sexuality over his astounding record,  Turing presents a great banner-figure, but the acceptance and public acknowledgement of this awful legal decision warrants more than a letter to the Telegraph about one of its more notable fatalities.



thejointstaff: Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to integrity.

Adm. Mike Mullen – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The future is odd.

computing Imported From Epistula Politics

Open Sesame

The Open Rights group founding was interesting.

At a talk just over a couple of years ago, organised by NTK, someone suggested that an organisation to protect the rights of people in the UK would only cost a few hundred people a fiver a month, and that there must be enough that this would be possible.

Having fairly publicly put my money where my mouth was a year or so ago, live on Hashlugradio, I’ve yet to regret doing so. And now it’s three years old, and already getting other people schooled.

It’s been a bumper year for digital rights. From HMRC posting half the nation’s bank details to the Darknet, to the ongoing campaign against Phorm, to three strikes and the rightsholder lobby’s so-far thwarted attempt to take control of your internet connection, this year was the year digital rights went mainstream. (ORG is 3, Nov 08)

So if you give a damn about protecting your rights online and off, I’d recommend throwing a couple of starbucks worth of change at the ORG each month, in return for a warm glowy feeling, a christmas party with no karaoke, and the possibility that the rights you’re guarding are your own.

But the leap from 750 to 1000 fivers received each month is not yet enough to guarantee us long term financial stability. We must reach our target of 1500 fivers before the end of the year. And we can’t do that without you. (ORG is 3, Nov 08)

Go now. Go quickly. We only have a few months to save the world

2008 Current Affairs Imported From Epistula Poems Politics


In World War One

  • Forty two million people were mobilised for the Allies
  • There were twenty two million casualties on the Allied side.
  • There are less than ten people alive left who fought.

    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    In World War Two

  • Over 10% of the 1939 population of Germany were killed. 16% of Poland.
  • The soviet union suffered 10,700,000 military deaths.
  • The UK lost 382,600.
  • One of these was John Brunt

    The point of Remembrance day is not war. It’s not really peace, either, and anyone using it to push any political agenda is doing the Service a disservice. It’s the unspoken social contract between those who go to fight the powers that would attack our country and those who survive: That if you go and fight, and do not return, we will remember them.

    You may disagree with the current war, where the direct threat to our lands is diffuse and not really counterable – and possibly enhanced – by direct action in the lands of others, but this war is not all wars, and these reasons are not all reasons, and those that die of these decisions did not make them.

    And so we remember them.

Imported From Epistula music Politics social

Politics, Vegetables and Paul and Storm

For some unknown reason, possibly just the random whims and zephers of ideas that float across my mind, I have become more interested in US politics recently. This means my normal daily diet of The Daily Show (and occasionally Colbert Report if I have time) has been joined by occasional episodes of Countdown and other things. I like Countdown, the presentation appeals to me. I haven’t been watching it long enough to know how balanced it is – He’s pretty obviously liberal, but the other side have been doing more stupid things recently – but finding a balanced news source is like looking for a needle in a club whose major clientelle is pins that dress up like needles every night and get stuck in. I do hope Obama wins. John McCain doesn’t appear to be a bad chap, at the end. When he’s actually speaking as himself – instead of reading speeches or working from incomplete information he’s been fed – he appears to have a solid grasp of reality and a fair manner. My worry is that he appears not to be able to see the balance in the information that he’s accepting, which is a bad position for a president to be in. Also, I do not like Palin. I think he should ditch Sarah Palin and swap her for Michael.

New topic. At the pub last night Tristan was demonstrating his Eee’s ability to run Mame games by playing Karateka) on it. But due to pub noise and accent-parsing, I could only hear it as “Carrotica”, your one stop shop for carrot-based erotica. For Carrots, by Carrots. With a Coleslaw department for those who like Carrot bondage. Etc. I just thought I’d share that with you.

Finally, I went to see Jonathan Coulton on Thursday, although in truth I was as much there to see Paul & Storm – two of what used to be Da Vinci’s Notebook, which has kinda-split-up-ish – as the main act. Neither disappointed in the least, especially with “Soft Rock” devolving into Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” as well as “Welcome to the Machine” and various other songs. And, for a £20 bet supplied by the audience, Paul performing most of “Mein Herr”:

Closing off with an epic ten minute version of The Captain’s Wife’s Lament (NSFW. Also funny):

(A full featured and contentful post today)

Imported From Epistula Politics

New Politics

So, it has become obvious that in a small area of the remainder of the British Empire is where the power is held, where once a system was put in place to divide the power so areas ruled – to a large extent – unto themselves, it now appears that residents of one area now get to decide the fate of the rest of the country, without the people of the areas affected being politically able to express their views.

Why is it that political residents of this small area should be able to affect the country without consequences?

I propose that this be referred to as “the West Minster Question”

Imported From Epistula MotW Politics

Traces of politics

From the Capitol Steps, to the tune of the Beach Boys’ ‘Kokomo’:


Current Affairs Imported From Epistula Politics weblog

The world today

Another day, another super-virus. Clever Scientists, in the name of Global Understanding – which has capital letters, so must be both good and true, have recreated the Spanish Flu virus which killed an estimated 50,000,000 people in 1918, in the hopes that it might help folks understand what caused it, and how we can combat it. To further this cause, they’ve uploaded the details to our own internets, in case some backyard biologist can rustle some up and solve it. Hopefully before we catch it from them and it, you know, kills another few million.

Iraq. Still no win yet.

Christmas is coming. I am, apparently, living in a country where I can buy mince pies, advent calendars (I intend to buy three. One so I can count down to November 5th, another to count down to the day Advent starts, and a third to count down to Christmas), but not neither pumpkins nor fireworks. It’s also reminded me that if I intend to start this multipart story for Advent I really should be writing it now. Only 80 days to go…

The Conservative party are entertaining us once again with their autumnal show at the seaside. It never ceases to amaze me how we employ such multi-talented people, to spend their year governing the entire country and still have time to rehearse and perform these exquisite examples of the traditional English farce every autumn. This year, the Tories are once again riffing on the theme of an out-dated and moribund political party desperately searching for a leader to rail against a dangerous and politically dodging and weaving opponent. It’s not an original theme for the troupe – they performed a similar show a little while ago, and again before that – but they’ve spiced it up to pantomime levels this year with a host of overplayed stereotypes each dodging the actual problem. A fine show, though I was beginning to find some of the characters a little two dimensional towards the end, a little more realism would have been nice.
I didn’t see a box-office number, but if you can get tickets I’m told it’s playing all week.

We have a black archbishop, who is advocating gay priests and female ones. America will get him fired shortly.

Which? magazine (UK Consumers Association organ) did a study on computer reliability. Apple won. Film at 11.

Cillit Bang are hastily backing down after their marketing campaign hit a virus checker last week. A representative of their advertising company was posting comments in weblogs from the perspective of their (fictional) spokesperson. This is not really a good thing in itself, but when they followed up one of Tom Coates’ heartfelt essays on his search for his father with one of these advertising tricks, they were justifiably shouted at. They are – or employ – morons. Avoid them. (Full disclosure: I met Tom in a bar once. I also met Bobbie Johnson – who wrote the story for the Guardian – at another, different bar once. Both were UK-Bloggers gatherings, so it’s not much of a coincidence, really).